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Celtics-Heat Game 4: The bizarre development of the Boston offensive juggernaut

Jun 3, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

It makes no sense, you understand. We’re talking about throwing away not just the stats, forget the stats. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen the Boston offense not only struggle, but look absolutely apoplectic for six months. That Sixers series was something out of a Rob Zombie film on offense. It wasn’t just gross, it was poorly done with little cohesion. And that defense was worse than Miami’s! But yet here we are, and we’re going to have to live with it.

Boston can score on Miami. Often, and well. The Celtics have a 98.2 offensive efficiency in the playoffs, which is dreadful. Against Miami through three games, they have a 107.6 offensive rating. Which is spectacular. Boston can score. It makes no sense, but that was the trend in the regular season, and that’s the trend now. Miami’s defense is every bit as good as Boston’s, and yet neither team can stop one another (Miami has a 109 offensive efficiency vs. Boston in the Conference Finals). And what’s even crazier? That’s the Celtics’ best chance to win. Out-gun the mighty Heat.

In Game 1, Boston tried making it into a streetfight. Slowed the game down, tried to make it into their kind of mud-wrestling match. Miami walloped them. In Game 2, they broke the game open and nearly won. In Game 3, they took them to the races and ran them out of the building. This is the way. It goes against everything Boston does philosophically, it goes against logic and reason, but this is Boston’s best chance at evening this series, winning this series, “shocking the world.” (Note: Most people picking the Heat does not in any way indicate that Boston winning would shock the world. Most people would not be surprised if you told them before the series that Boston would win. They’d be surprised you traveled back in time to tell them the outcome of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals series.)

So we’re just going to have to adjust. Boston hasn’t even gotten all its weapons going. Paul Pierce is still barely scoring more points than field goal attempts, Ray Allen is still spotty, and in reality it was Marquis Daniels and Keyon Dooling who carried the day in Game 4. So they can play better on offense. Miami will find ways to adjust, but some things they can’t adjust to. They can’t get longer to battle Kevin Garnett. They can’t get faster to cover Rajon Rondo. And if the Celics keep up this “fire when ready” approach, running the offense through Rondo and not Pierce, they’ve got a great chance at winning Game 4 and sending the Heat back to South Beach with their tails between their legs.

Miami has to slow down Boston. (Things you never thought you would say.) They need to get their transition defense back, get better interior rotations, and stay engaged defensively. They can score on their own end, and the formula isn’t tough. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James score a lot of points. If Wade has another off day, they’re sunk. That’s just the reality without Bosh, but their bigger concern is defense.

It’s strange, it’s baffling, it’s against what we know and understand. But this plodding, awful Boston offense that relies on contested jumpers can score on the Heat, at will. The degree of how much will determine whether the Heat can put the Celtics to the edge of the shore.

  1. dmb182 - Jun 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    It’s not that bizarre. The sixers defense was pretty great, I don’t think they got enough credit for that. And the clerics offense was good enough to beat them still. So it’s not surprising to me at all that they can score on the heat.

  2. mungman69 - Jun 3, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    When Bosh comes back. Hey, wait, Miami won’t need him.

  3. simonwelds - Jun 3, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    It’s not baffling is actually quite obvious, when u jack up 20-25 3 pointers a game 10-15 of them will result in long rebounds creating easy fast break opportunities for rondo. When u only use iso or high pick and rolls on set pieces, a good defensive team can easily adjust and double team the outlet guy. If Miami mixed things up with an occasional 3-2 zone, and rotated the ball to high post instead of a weakside 3 pointer, the lanes will open up for wade just like in the pacer series.lebron needs to play more without the ball allowing him to make decision at high post where bosh played, move James jones to the 3 spot, cheat him in 15-18 ft out and there u have it. Boston has a better game plan but Miami talented enough to win this series, the question is can they make the simple adjustments?

  4. infectorman - Jun 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Speaking of defensive rotations:

    Game 3, mid 3rd Quarter, Pierce has the ball on the right elbow, backing Wade in, turns to his right to drive the left side of the paint, beats Wade and rolls in a lefty layup off the glass. Lebron was playing zone D at the spot Pierce was headed for and after Pierce beat Wade he never once moved to provide weak-wide help to Wade; his feet were stuck in the mud.
    Wade gets the ball after it drops thru the cylinder and bounces it down hard in disgust. Luckily it hit the iron on the way up and didn’t go MUCH higher, or he could’ve earned a T.
    Where was Lebron?

  5. ajpurp - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    The point isn’t not giving credit to the sixers, it’s the fact that Miami’s D is slightly better than the sixers AND Boston is scoring WAY more. It has nothing to do with not giving enough credit to Philly.

  6. legeisyaj - Jun 3, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Hope they do it, but unfortunately there really is no way the Cs’s win 4 games.

  7. duane888 - Jun 4, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    “….. sending the Heat back to South Beach with their tails between their legs”.

    Wow. What interesting words by the writer. I wonder what he’s gonna say when the C’s get their ass handed to them in game 5. Everybody plays better at home and 2 of the next 3 are in Miami !!

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